Uncle Roy had his own theory about who was taking care of her summer reading.
- Posted on Apr 20, 2015
Every Friday afternoon in 1964 my teacher passed out a copy of the Weekly Reader to every student in the class. The educational newspaper carried articles about current events, popular music and science experiments. I devoured each issue.
Once school was over, so was my Weekly Reader subscription. Some kids paid for it to be delivered to their homes all summer, but that wasn’t possible for me this year. My father was in and out of the hospital for medical treatments, and money was tight.
That’s why I was spending the summer with Grandma and Uncle Roy. I would be close enough for Mom to visit a lot, but she would be more free to take care of my father.
“You and Uncle Roy will have fun,” Mom said as she helped me pack.
“Everything’s fun with Uncle Roy,” I agreed.
It wasn’t my idea of the perfect summer, but we all had to pull together to get through tough times. We didn’t know when—or if—my father would return to his job as an electrical engineer. I had to get used to making sacrifices. When Mom dropped me off at Grandma’s I smiled and waved goodbye.
Grandma showed me to the room that would be mine. When evening came I heard a key in the front door. Uncle Roy was home from work! He asked me all about things that were going on with me—friends, school, music I liked. “What’s this?” he asked, flipping through the pile of stuff I’d brought to read. “You’re reading about the Berlin Wall?”
“That’s my Weekly Reader,” I said. “I don’t have a summer subscription, so I’m rereading old ones. That story’s about a family who was separated when the Wall went up. They escaped through an underground tunnel. You should read it!”
“Maybe I will,” said Uncle Roy. “But first I’m going to eat your grandmother’s delicious cooking.”
Over the next couple of weeks, I helped Grandma around the house, went to see my friends, read all the books I’d brought. “I’m having a great time,” I told Mom when she called. “Don’t worry.” Maybe I couldn’t have everything I wanted, but I had everything I needed.
Then one Friday afternoon I went to the mailbox. Among Grandma’s bills and circulars and craft magazines, I found a Weekly Reader addressed to me! I couldn’t believe it. When Mom dropped by for a visit I threw my arms around her as soon as she walked in the door. “Thank you!” I said. “I didn’t want to ask for a subscription this summer but I really, really wanted one.”
“I’m glad you’re happy, Sweetheart,” she said. “But I didn’t get you a subscription.”
“Then who did?” I asked.
For the rest of the day I tried to solve the mystery. I had a subscription last summer. Maybe the company accidentally signed me up again. I hoped they wouldn’t charge Mom if it was their mistake. But, then again, how did they know to send it to my grandmother’s house?
Uncle Roy had his own theory about the subscription. “It sounds like you have an angel taking care of your summer reading,” he said.
Would God really send an angel for something like that? Something so small, but so important to me? I didn’t know, but the idea made me feel good. Like God saw the sacrifices we were making, and he cared.
Every week after that I was reminded of God’s care when I got my new issue. Friday afternoons were better than ever because I could sit in the grass with my back against a tree and read. I read about the Ranger 7 space probe that was launched at the moon and sent back pictures of the lunar surface, and President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act.
There was even an article about the London premiere of A Hard Day’s Night starring my favorite group, The Beatles.
Uncle Roy read every issue with me. We went for long walks where we talked about the articles. In the evenings he played his collection of big band records and taught me how to jitterbug. Sometimes on the weekends I helped him make a special meal or bake a cake.
Uncle Roy liked the Weekly Reader science experiments as much as I did. We started out making a crystal garden from baking soda and bluing, and worked our way up to a vinegar and baking soda volcano.
“This will be a big project,” Uncle Roy said as he set up the materials in the kitchen. “We need something to dance to while we work.”
He went to the stereo. I listened for the jazzy brass of the big band. Instead I heard a familiar chord on the electric guitar. “It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog…”
I squealed. “I thought I’d try out some new music,” Uncle Roy said.
We danced all afternoon to the Beatles—and our baking soda volcano fizzed and foamed and oozed in a most satisfying success.
It seemed like no time at all until the summer was over and I went back home. My summer at Grandma’s no longer felt like a sacrifice. I’d had fun every day thanks to Uncle Roy, and I even got my own small miracle, thanks to my Weekly Reader angel.
Years later, after Uncle Roy had died, I told my mother that I made some of the happiest memories of my life that summer. “And I think I may have figured out the mystery of the Weekly Reader subscription,” I said.
“Yes,” Mom confessed. “It was Uncle Roy who got it for you as soon as you told him you liked it.”
I did have an angel looking out for me that summer. An angel I called Uncle Roy.
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